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steadily falling snow, the flakes settling on their shoulders
and on the lap-robes and the backs of the horses. The snow
had begun to obliterate the tracks of the wheels and the
hoofprints of the horses, and the grey light began to fade from
the sky, As they parted in the hallway of the house, the
men had been full of good temper and laughter, all except
Mr. Sills, who rarely if ever took more than one drink of
anything. The cold and snow and the early twilight had
seemed like nothing to them then.

Lounging in the library, where the fire leaped and flickered
up at the deep, black throat of the chimney and the bottles
sat solidly on the big silver tray on the table, they had drunk
glass after glass. They had thrust their legs out before them
and held their glasses in their hands and comfortably
digested the turkey and ham and pudding, their conversation
grave and slow at first, and then, with the warmth of the
liquor, more brisk, and punctuated by bursts of deep laugh-
ter. But behind the pleasure of the hour there had been a
more substantial cause for satisfaction. The secretary had
reported that the Alta Company was prepared to open
negotiations at the rate of nine-fifty for prime leaf, and that
a private buyer was offering ten for Australian, grade A, and
seven for snuff leaf, fine. The board had voted against
consideration of the offers. "By God!" Mr. Christian had
exclaimed, slapping the top of the table with the weight of
his red hand, "we've got the bastards by the short hairs 1
Make 'em say papa, make 'em wish they never heard about
tobacco. Make 'em wish they was in the ribbon business.
They're up that old creek and ain't got no paddle. By God "
—and he had paused to take a deep breath, like a thirsty man
who has been drinking deep—"nine-fifty, they say] After
we've published our price schedule, Australian, grade A,
sixteen dollars; Italian, grade A, fifteen-twenty-five; spinners,
fine, twelve"—and he paused again, his breath sucking
through his teeth—"they ain't a thing on the schedule I
don't know in my sleep, I read it every night like old maids
read the Bible, to keep their feet warm. Nine-fifty, they say I